Teacher aides work with students on behalf of a lead teacher, and most have some formal training. Continue reading to learn about the responsibilities and academic requirements of this career to determine if it's a good fit for you.
Teacher aides, also called teaching assistants or TAs, provide in-class and administrative support for classroom teachers. Most TAs only work on a part-time basis. These professionals traditionally assist in kindergarten, elementary, junior high and high school classrooms. However, they may also work in private daycare centers, early learning programs and organizations that have after-school programs for children, like the YMCA.
As a TA, you might supervise lunch rooms, monitor hallways or accompany classes on field trips. Other responsibilities for teaching assistants include reviewing lesson plans, grading papers or working with individual students. In some cases, you might work with young children who haven't started school yet or who show signs of developmental delays and other disabilities. You could also work with special needs students.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that teacher's aides must be able to pass a background check, communicate effectively, resolve classroom disputes and follow teacher's instructions (www.bls.gov). While some TAs are trained on the job after earning a high school diploma, employers may prefer teaching assistants who have completed a postsecondary program.
The BLS projects that between 2012 and 2022, the number of employed teaching assistants will increase by nine percent. As of May 2013, TAs made a median annual salary of $24,000.
The minimum requirement for TAs is a high school diploma, but completing a 1-year certificate program or a 2-year associate's degree program can lead to additional career opportunities. Courses in these programs cover how school systems work, how to manage a classroom and the uses of modern technology in an educational setting. To earn a teaching assistant associate's degree, you may need to observe or work with a teacher in a classroom.
You can also work as an aide if you're an aspiring teacher who holds a bachelor's degree in elementary or secondary education. Conversely, employed TAs who want to become licensed teachers can often transfer their academic credits into a bachelor's program in education.